Friday, December 29, 2017

Goodbye 2017

This is my last post for 2017.  I'm not going to write a year in review this morning, although you will certainly see many of them in the next few days.  I'm not going to talk about resolutions either or about who I think should be remembered as the hero of the year.  I simply want to share a few thoughts.

When you look back on this year now ending, I hope you won't think of it as a year of pain and of loss.  Regardless of how much bad happened, there was still good and we certainly woke up to a lot of realities.  I hope you will think of it as a year of growth and a year of learning.

Those of you reading this now, can be proud that you continue to wake up each day.  Despite the hardships, and yes there have been many, you have become stronger and are a better person.  Be proud of yourself!

On Sunday night, don't despair.  Look ahead to better days.  Raise your glass and toast the brand new year with hope and with confidence.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

strive to be happy

Our nation's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln once said “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” I really believe that too.  WE control whether or not we are happy.
Yes, everything in life does not turn out the way we might want it and there can certainly be some very trying moments, but anger, frustration, sorrow, are all filled with negativity.  There is always something positive in our lives, even if it might take some time to look for it.  It might not always be easy either.  Being happy though is actually a choice we make.  We should choose to be happy above anything else.
This isn't a new idea. Aristotle is quoted as saying "Happiness depends upon ourselves." Max Ehrmann's Desiderata closes with these words:  “Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” 

Like I said, it might not always be easy, but the joy of happiness is its own reward!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Back to the Barn Sanctuary

Back in August I first wrote about Barn Sanctuary saying "Be kind to all animals.  They deserve our love and respect just as much as humans do."  I've been following them on facebook and twitter and watching the adorable pictures posted by their founder Dan McKernan.  Seeing what they are doing for their rescued turkeys, cows, horses, pigs, chickens, ducks, sheep, and goats warms my heart.  I mentioned them again in October and you will likely hear me say a lot more.

The cruel and horrific things humans do to animals turns my stomach.  We hear about some terrible incident all too often in the news.  Thankfully there are people who care.  Go to and look at the cute pictures, but also read the inspiring stories of rescue.  It truly will warm your heart!

Oh and speaking of warm, this is not a time of year when it is warm in Chelsea, Michigan where Barn Sanctuary is located.  The food, medical expenses, shelter, and daily needs of the animals is particularly important now when snow is on the ground.  Sometimes folks think they cannot afford to make donations, but as little as a dollar can make a difference!  Skip that latte for a day or two and send it on to Barn Sanctuary.  (Right now before the year ends is an especially good time to make a gift so you can claim it on this year's taxes too).

There are volunteer opportunities if you are in that area.  Check it out on the website.  Tell your friends too.  This is such important work.  No animal should suffer.  Dan and Barn Sanctuary are certainly among my 2017 heroes!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Joy to the world!

Finally!  The special time of year has arrived.  (It hasn't been going on since September, despite what some retailers want you to believe). On Sunday night people all over the world will be welcoming Christmas.  You do still have a little bit of time for those last minute preparations but don't delay!
Whether you gather with family and friends in a church at midnight and sing Silent Night) or stay at home in front of a fireplace (or the yule log on television), I hope that yours will be an enjoyable celebration.
Many of my holiday traditions have changed since I moved to a smaller community, but that doesn't matter.  The spirit of Christmas is wherever you happen to be.

Yes, there have been things in this past year that make you not want to celebrate.  If you lost a loved one, it just not feel right to be happy, but happiness is within the reach of every single one of us.  There have been good times, AND there will be more, so joy to the world  -  be happy!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I owe it all to Mom

Today would have been my mother's 91st birthday.  Even though it fell five days before Christmas, we tried to make a big deal of it and celebrate it as a separate occasion.  Mom always enjoyed making a big deal out of other people's birthdays, instead of folks doing things for her.

I remember back when I was a teenager, I decided to make her a birthday cake.  Using a mix and following the instructions, I thought making green cake and red frosting (Christmas colors) would be appropriate.  The little food coloring I put in first didn't seem to make much difference, so I added more, and then some more.  I had no idea that this extra liquid would cause problems with the baking.  The cake never looked done, so I tried to fix things by using a lot of icing.  Oh and I didn't wait for the cake to cool - nobody told me.  It was awful!  REALLY bad.  Mom didn't think so though.  She talked about that cake for years and years.

She and Nana toaught me about kindness - not actual lessons, but just by the way they lived.  They both became heroes of mine.  I've probably mention Mom here more than any other person, and that is certainly appropriate.  Although this blog is NOT about me, it is about making a difference, and Mom certainly did that.  Any good things that I might do I can easily claim that I owe it all to Mom.

This is the fifth year since she passed away and I miss her more than ever.  So many times I have wanted to call her up and share some little thing.  Do me a favor folks, if your mom is still alive, call her up today, even if just to say hello.  If your mom has already passed on, call someone else and let them know what you mean to them.  Let's keeping spreading the love!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Twenty dollar bill story

A well-known speaker started off his seminar holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200 people, he asked, "Who would like this $20 bill?" Hands started going up. He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this."

He proceeded to crumple up the currency and then asked, "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air. "Well," he replied, "What if I do this?" And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. "Now, who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.

"My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth twenty dollars. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We may feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE. You are special - Don't EVER forget it."

I've told you about this speaker and the story of the twenty dollar bill here before.  It didn't originate with me.  It is one of those that has floated around and I am simply retelling it here. (I do that sort of thing from time-to-time). But it speaks to a number of things. Mostly it says count your blessings, not your problems.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

with grateful hearts

While most of you are gobbling up turkey today, I know that great sadness is present for many too.  If you lost a loved one around this time of year or if it's the first big holiday without a certain relative or friend, it can be difficult.  Remembering the Jonestown Massacre, the JFK Assassination, or the Moscone - Milk murders, all of which occurred in late November, or thinking of the passing of a favorite celebrity like David Cassidy, can put a cloud on the festivities.

There has been a lot of bad news in general these days, and especially the many instances of sexual inappropriateness, and that can also put a damper on the cheerfulness that usually accompanies a holiday like this.  None of this means we shouldn't be thankful and none of this means we shouldn't celebrate.

Thanksgiving Day is one of the most basic kinds of holidays.  It's centered around family, friends, food, and tradition.  At the heart of it all is our grateful attitude.  We all have something to be thankful for - it might not seem like it at times, but there is something. 

I recently asked some of my friends what they are thankful for.  One person was grateful to have recovered enough from a stroke that he can return to work.  Another person said they were grateful their spouse beat her cancer.  My sister told me this week she is grateful for me!  I'm personally grateful for many things, including my health, my friends and family, and for being connected to so many people. 

With a truly grateful heart, I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cherish is the word

David Cassidy passed away yesterday.  It wasn't a huge surprise - he had been hospitalized for several days in critical condition.  It is still sad news though.  He was only 67.  It might be a surprise though to see me writing about him.  This is where I tell of heroes, but as I have often said, not all heroes wear capes.

David Cassidy didn't have the smoothest of lives.  There were multiple marriages, health issues, problems with alcohol, and even some legal matters, but for most of his life, David did something that made him happy and made him famous:  he entertained.  When people sang along with his song he smiled.  When he say he was making someone happy, he was happy too.  That would seem to be the best reason to be a performer, but se certainly cannot say this about all in the business.

David did things for charity, and this became especially true after his mother died from Alzheimer’s, having spent her last years in a nursing home.  David bravely shared with the world that he too had dementia, and retired from performing.  He had brought attention though to a health matter that really doesn't get much attention.  This month also happens to be National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month.  We can use David Cassidy's death as another reason to get involved and learn more about dementia and what can be done.

Danny Bonaduce‏, who co-starred as David Cassidy's younger brother on The Partridge Family, last night tweeted "I have known, loved, and admired David Cassidy for 48 out of my 58 years. He has been as kind to me as any real brother could ever be. We’ve been through a lot together and he was always there for me. This loss is huge."

Last night the internet lit up with news about David's death and words of love were in abundance.  "Come On Get Happy" wasn't just a song he sang, it was really his mission and there is ample proof of this as the world mourns his loss.  I'll always have a special place for this special guy.  I suppose cherish is the word.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Our trans brothers and sisters

Today we are remembering and honoring our transgender sisters and brothers around the world today, whose lives have been lost to anti-transgender violence.  The death of a loved one is always a sad time, but it is particularly difficult when it was brought about by hate.  Reflecting on all those who have gone before, let us also vow this day to work for justice, fairness, and an end to hate.

Picture if you will a favorite co-worker or a cousin, or even a sibling who happens to be transgender.  How would you feel if they were discriminated against because of their gender identity?  What would be your reaction if they were beaten or killed?  Every human being has a right to life, and we need to stand up for each other. Part of that means calling out transphobia when we see it, even if it is within the LGBTQ community.

If you don't understand what it means to be transgender, find out!  Get to know people.  Even with a lack of understanding, everyone certainly realizes that physical attacks on other people are not right.  Nobody deserves a life of fear.  Think about it.  Would you want to life your life in fear?

There are some wonderful resources and the Transgender Law Center is an excellent starting place.  Go to their website at where you will find a list of resources (and where you can also make a donation).  Also, take a few moments and click HERE to remember the names of those taken from us this year.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Thanks Whoopi

She's a comedian, actress, author, activist, tv host, and from everything I have every heard, a darn nice person.  I've never met Whoopi Goldberg, but I have been entertained by her for as long as I can remember, and I don't think there is another person I respect and admire more than her.

The whole purpose of this blog has always been to suggest ways of getting involved and making a difference in our world, and to spotlight those everyday heroes who are courageously helping to make this a better place.  Ms Goldberg could easily be the poster-person for this blog.  She is always her true self and says (and does) what it needed when it is needed.  She is certainly not one of those celebrities who sits on her throne, expecting the whole world to bow down to her.

Her support for lgbtq rights is unwavering.  It's not just talk either.  You will see Whoopi Goldberg out on the front lines, not just here in the US, but she called a couple of years ago for global solidarity with lgbtq sisters and brothers in Uganda and Nigeria.  She also helped launch the Give A Damn campaign (with Cyndi Lauper).

I could spend the entire morning writing about how this incredible woman is always giving.  I could talk at length about her wonderful movie roles (I actually watched some of the filming of Sister Act ), her comedy, and her daily gig on The View.  Instead, I just want to say happy birthday to this amazing and inspiring woman, and say thanks for making a difference!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Make it stop

Yesterday, as you no doubt already know, there was another church shooting with more than two dozen people killed including the Pastor's daughter and a pregnant women.  Mass shootings have become so common, and sadly so many of them have been happening in churches. 

Remember when churches were considered a safe place to be?  Remember when churches were sanctuaries?  Remember when our country was a safe place?  For some of us it seems like a long time ago.

Killing is happening somewhere every single day.  Hate is at an all time high.  It doesn't have to be this way though.  We can make it stop.  Just recently someone said to me "there will always be hate, but there will always be love too."  I hope they are wrong about the hate.  I really think we have the power to drive hate out and replace it with only love.  We can at least try.

I don't have a specific solution, but I know that when people come together, we can do great things.  Let's do that.  Let's make a difference.  Let's make the killing stop.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Don't forget your clocks

Tomorrow night before bedding down, don't forget your clocks.  Now I know that in some places, Daylight Saving Time is not observed (like in Arizona and parts of Indiana), but for all the rest of you, be sure to set your clock back one hour and get that extra hour of sleep.

Whether you observe Daylight Saving Time in your neck-of-the-woods or not, it's always a good reminder to replace those batteries in your home, especially the ones in your smoke detectors.  Check also to see if all your wall and table clocks are displaying the correct time.

This isn't something I generally write about here, but how can you change the world if your don't even know the correct time?  Let's all do some incredible things this November!  Together we really can be instruments of change!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

In reverse

Today is one of those odd days during the year that folks seem to love or hate and for a wide variety of reasons.  Some already did their Halloween over the weekend and some will spend tonight either celebrating, hiding, or a little of both.  I feel bad for all the people who become uncomfortable with this occasion, but if we all showed more kindness and respect toward each other, I think it could be more enjoyable.

Remember those Halloween pranks you did as a kid?  How about reversing it and doing some good deed instead?  Some folks might want to make an entire evening of doing nice things for others - a sort of reverse trick-or-treating.

Oh and then there is the candy and treats.  We could turn that around too.  Rather than collecting candy, we could distribute candy.  Buy several bags of those small candy bars and head to the nearby fire station, to the library, perhaps to some shops you frequent or to a senior center.  Don't expect people to give something to you but instead you give something to them. 

There are lots of possibilities in doing the day in reverse.  Of course some may want to go the traditional way too.  That's fine.  Do what makes you happy, but for me, bring joy to others gives me so much happiness.  However you celebrate, be safe and respectful and enjoy the occasion!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Life is a picnic

Have you ever heard someone say "It's no picnic? It means that something is not particularly easy or pleasant. There may be a lot of things we can say that about, but if we try, we just might be able to make picnics everyday. Seriously.

Over the weekend, I was in the park with friends and neighbors doing all of the traditional things - listening to music, chatting with each other, playing games, and of course eating delicious burgers, hot dogs, salads, and cookies. It was a picnic indeed!

"When things are a bit tense, when life is not going at its best, when the potential for disaster is just around the corner, when your enemies are all around you - and even staring you down! - that's when God lays out the red-checkered picnic cloth and says, "Oooo, this is a nice place. Let's hang out here together for a while. . .just you and me." That's what David Brazzeal says in Pray Like a Gourmet: Creative Ways to Feed Your Soul (a very good read, by the way). Brazzeal is giving us his idea of what Psalm 23 is all about. Yes, God spreads a picnic for us - if we let him.

Not a lot of money in your pocket? Health not what you would like it to be? You don't know a lot of people? So many excuses we allow to turn us in the negative direction, and it is certainly true that every day is not as pleasant as the next, but why give up? When I look back at yesterday, I realize how simple it was. We didn't eat fancy food. We didn't have live entertainment. We didn't spend a lot of money on sports equipment. We could probably have scaled back and had an even more simple get-together, and still have had a lot of fun. Life is a picnic, if we allow it to be.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Wanted: For Acts of Goodness - the names and information about people making a difference in our world.  Yes, the information is wanted because there are tons of fantastic people out there doing wonderful things, but we don't always get to hear about them.  We should celebrate their good deeds and be inspired by them.  Perhaps you can help!
I'm always looking for new ways to brighten people's days and to give back to this wonderful world.  I'm always happy to write about others here too - those hometown heroes that truly are making a difference.  Sometimes I just bump into someone.  Occasionally a friend mentions a story or I come across something in a newspaper or on television.  Another way of course is if you would help!  If you know of a person or organization that is doing something marvelous and making a difference for the better, share that information with us in the comments section below!
While the information is certainly wanted, so are more folks like that.  Don't be afraid to try new ways of giving.  Don't be afraid of changing the world!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Cora and Dan

A few months ago I wrote here about this incredible place in Chelsea, Michigan called Barn Sanctuary which the human pictured here, Dan McKernan, founded to  rescue, rehabilitate, and care for farm animal refugees.  I've been following their adventures, and am finally getting back here to say some more.

If you love animals, the stories on their website and their facebook page, will warm your heart.  Dan is a saint and seems to enjoy every single minute he spends with these lovely creatures.  He's not alone - his dad and a few others comprise the staff and then there are volunteers that help as well.  Oh and donations keep the place running.  I'm sure you can imagine that a LOT of money is needed, so if you are able, help them out.

Check out their blog too and and learn all kinds of things, including how to go vegan.  If the picture here of Cora and her beautiful cow eyes doesn't get you, I'm sure other stories from their website will melt your heart. 

I wish they were closer, I'd be there in a second!  Volunteer support is essential to the animals at Barn Sanctuary, and information is available concerning that as well as just about anything you might want to know, on their website.  For frequent updates, follow them on facebook too at

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I'm positive

"Look on the bright side" is an oft quoted saying.  Oh and just in case you haven't noticed, there is always a bright side!  Positive thinking is so much happier and affirming than negative thinking.  While it is true that everything in life is not perfect, there are still always things for which we should rejoice and be glad.  No matter how many bad things come up, I still want to look at the good.
Abraham Lincoln said something truly marvelous about this very subject.  “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”   What a great way of looking at things!
As you go through life, look at the wonderful positive things that come your way.  Let other people sling their mud or be a gloomy Gus.  No need for you to fall into that trap.  Be happy.  Think positive.  I do!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Often is heard an encouraging word

Originally written by Dr Brewster M. Higley of Smith County, Kansas as part of a poem entitled My Western Home, back in the early 1870s, the line "Where seldom is heard a discouraging word," is familiar as part of the song Home On the Range. Around here we borrow from that idea but state it in the positive: Often is heard an encouraging word!
Why not?  It is so uplifting to raise others up too.  Speaking to cheer or to console or simply to refresh is such a positive experience - it warms your heart!  Besides, who needs all the negativity?  How much more rewarding it is to see the good in our world and to encourage more of it!
I really like looking our at the beauty and the positive energy in our world.  Dr Higley's poem has another very uplifting line later on too.  He writes

          "How often at night, when the heavens were bright,
                                                         With the light of the twinkling stars
Have I stood here amazed, and asked as I gazed,
If their glory exceed that of ours."

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

In Remembrance

Two years ago on this date, a very dear friend of mine passed away.  During his forty-two years of life, he made friends wherever he went, traveling to 43 countries and 47 US states, he was a man rich in faith, in ideas, and in compassion for others.  I hope the entire world will remember him with love, as I most certainly will remember him.

Great women and men live and die every day, doing marvelous deeds and making a difference in our world.  So many of them are never acknowledged.  That's not why they care - why they give back so much, but it would be nice if they could be remembered.

In Ecclesiasticus (called Sirach in some Bibles) it speaks of our ancestors in chapter 44 and says of them "Some of them have left behind a name, so that others declare their praise.  But of others there is no memory; they have perished as though they had never existed; they have become as though they had never been born, they and their children after them. But these also were godly men, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten; Their offspring will continue for ever, and their glory will never be blotted out.  Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name lives on generation after generation."

Say the names of those we know.  Say Wilson, Teddy, Bill, Mary, Fay, Richard Jonathan, Eddie, Cindy, and Brian.  Say the names of the others too.  Think about all who have made a difference.  Hold in your mind the good memories of all who worked for good.  Of the ones we don't know and have never heard about, be aware that good women and man are always among us, and their hard work helped make a better world.

Pause for a moment today and help me remember my friend, and I will remember yours.  Please feel free to add names and positive memories in the comments section below.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Story of a doctor and the racism he has faced

Those of you who read this regularly know that on occasion I have shared stories I "found" and have no idea who the author is.  Today I am sharing one of those.  I did search to find who wrote it, but didn't locate the writer.  I have no idea of the city or any additional information.  The point is, this man was the victim of hate.  I'm glad he shared his story and I hope you will all read it and then do everything you can to put an end to hate.  Nobody should have to experience a confrontation like this.  Please read on -

I’m a black man. I’m about 6’2″, average build. Nothing too fancy. I think I look normal, not intimidating in the slightest. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood. My parents were blue collar workers, but provided for me and my sister. We were taught manners, said our pleasantries. I got detention once in fifth grade because I was late to class because I spilled paint in my Art class and had to clean it up. But that’s it, that’s the worst trouble I’ve ever been in in my life.

I am a surgical resident at a hospital you’ve probably heard of. I was educated in a Top 10 university and went to medical school at a pseudo-Ivy League institution. I have had a great life. I’ve made sure of it. So have my parents.

Of course, I have noticed racism throughout my life. I have been pulled over and the officer has never given me a clear answer. Sometimes, they will straight up lie and tell me that I was speeding when I know I wasn’t. Once, I was stopped and frisked. The officer apologized and told me that I matched the description of a criminal-on-the-run in the area. The only description was “black man, average build.” I never reported this, but I always remember it.

 Today, I was leaving after a 26-hour shift at the hospital. I’m in my fourth year of residency and the hours get longer and longer, but I’m almost done. Today was particularly grueling, because I found out that a patient I have worked with since the start of my residency is now deemed ‘terminal’ and will be moved to hospice care. It sucked, it broke my heart. It was like four years’ worth of work had been erased.

As I was walking across the parking lot, a young man—younger than me, maybe twenty-five—leaned out of his car and called me the n-word. It was loud enough so people could hear. People stared, most in shock. Others picked up the pace to get away from the earth-shattering embarrassment unfolding.

I stopped and looked at him.The man didn’t get out of his car, but he made sure I saw him. The sneer on his face, it grew into a piercing grin. He started mimicking the sounds of a monkey. He called me the N-word again. People continued to stare. My mouth fell open. The guy mocked my expression; he feigned behavior like one of my patients suffering from severe mental retardation. He was trying to show me how he saw me.

A lot of things were on my mind in the forty-five odd seconds I was standing there. I wanted to walk up to the man and list off all my accomplishments. I wanted to tell him how, in eleventh grade, I won a science fair by creating a more efficient way for our school’s agriculture club to conserve energy. It took me to a national conference.

I wanted to tell him about the first time I fell in love. I wanted to tell him about the guy who made my heart beat so fast that I thought it would explode. This guy, he was tall, his smile was dopey and his eyes were light. Just the thought of him took away the painful feelings that this man was bringing to me. I wanted to tell him that I’m a good person; that I volunteer, I save lives, I work so people like you get a chance to survive and carry on being the hateful people you are.

But instead, I walked to my car. The man called me the N-word about five more times, laughing so hard I thought it was certain he would lose consciousness.

I sat behind the wheel for a very long time, maybe ten minutes, processing. I was angry at the man, but also at the people that didn’t say anything. I was angry at myself for not saying anything.

Sometimes, I just feel alone. Who I am, simply the color of my skin, makes me the target of hate from people that I will never even know. I truly try to love and understand everyone, so when one person returns that with malice and ill-will, it’s a lot to take in.

I don’t think anyone will read this, but I just wanted to tell you all about my day. I want to put this out into the world. I want to let the Internet know that black people are good. Black people are strong, capable, smart. Black people are resilient. I’m proud of my Blackness. I’m proud of my coarse hair and thick lips. I’m proud of my body that is subject to ridicule. I am proud of who I am, what I have been through. I am proud of my ancestors who were slaves and now I am their wildest dream. Black people can be bad, too. Black people can be murderers and thieves and rapists. Black people can be everything—except human, apparently. I just want to be acknowledged as a human. I want to be seen as a human. I want to be known.

I love my black body. I’m tired of having to explain that pride in my black body is not hatred for any other race. I’m tired of worrying that I may be shot driving to work.

I don’t hate police. I don’t hate White people. I don’t hate anyone.

But, God, I love me. And I want that to be enough.

I say it is enough and I hope all of you agree. Again, I didn't write this, it's something I discovered and am grateful that the writer posted it.  I hope people will be moved by it and I invite you again to share it with others. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Help in the midst of disaster

There have been so many natural disasters in the past week, and yesterday afternoon, another huge one - a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Central Mexico, just south of the city of Puebla.  Mexico City was hard hit,  The shaking was reported to have lasted about one minute - a very long time for an earthquake.  Over two hundred people died, and that number is expected to rise.  Watching the images on tv, I saw a very dire scene, but I also saw heroes.

Emergency workers were out in force and doing what they do so well.  They chose professions where they can help others and are heroes every day.  Joining them though were friends, neighbors, everyday folks who just pitched in.  Pictures of people digging through rubble and then finding survivors is so heartwarming. 

Almost immediately [people all over began putting together assistance for the Mexican people too.  Donations started pouring in and people volunteered to go there and help with the search and rescue and with rebuilding.

We will hear hundreds of stories of heroes in the days ahead, and let that encourage us.  Yes there is bad news, but there are also caring, loving people who give help in the midst of disaster.  Let's all be helpers.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

the smile on your face is there because

The smile on your face is there because you are happy?  Are you always happy?  Do you realize you are smiling or is it something that just comes naturally?  When you meet someone for the first time, do you notice whether or not they are smiling?
Okay so it might look like a toothpaste commercial to some people, but so what?  Isn't a happy appearance a better option than an unhappy one?  I think when someone is smiling, it makes me smile, and not just on my face - I find myself smiling inside.
If you see someone today without a smile, why don't you give them one of yours?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Inspired by Ellen

Reading this daily, as I hope many of you do, you are already aware of my great admiration for Ellen DeGeneres.  She doesn't just talk about being kind, she IS kind, and she makes a difference every single day.  I'm sure she doesn't want me to talk about her as much as I do, but it's all true.

Ellen has helped out so many individuals and organizations on her daily talk show.  Sometimes it's hard for me to make it through her program without breaking into tears.  She not only gives away money and merchandise, but she brings needed attention to various causes.

We're not just talking about a brief segment on a television program though.  Ellen is a giver wherever she is and has supported  The Trevor Project, PETA, Habitat For Humanity, Project Cuddle, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Farm Sanctuary, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  Also It Gets Better Project, Love Our Children USA, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Artists Against Racism, Clothes Off Our Back, Stand Up To Cancer, Heifer International, and many others.

I'm not here to tell you to watch the Ellen DeGeneres program, but it's become a habit of mine (there's a lot of great entertainment on there too) and Ellen certainly is an inspiration.  As I mentioned before, it was her request that we all be kind to one another, that sparked me to writing my other blog about kindness.  She makes the word a better place and we all can be glad indeed that Ellen DeGeneres came our way!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Joy Joy Joy

There used to be a song that was often sung around the campfire at church camps and other places with a line that went "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy - Down in my heart - Down in my heart to stay."  I don't know how I got that in my head.  I must have joy in my heart!
What brings you joy?  I've asked that question here before, but think about it for a moment once again.  There are tons of answers to the question.  There really isn't a wrong answer.  What brings you joy might not bring me joy.  Does some of your own joy come in the giving too?  So how can a feeling of great pleasure and happiness be felt by those around you?  What can you do to share the joy?  Do you every purposely try to fill others with joy and happiness?
For me joy is pretty awesome but like with this blog, it's NOT about me and it's not just about my joy alone.  I really am most joyful when I am surrounded by other joyful people.  Seems pretty obvious what we need to do then.  We need to spread the joy, especially during this difficult week!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Reflections from Sixteen Years Ago

The words below I have printed here before, but in this troubled week, I think it will be good to see them again.  Sixteen years ago, when the terrorist attacks stunned the nation, Frank Tracy Griswold was Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States.  Three days after the attacks, as the country was trying to understand and to heal, memorials were held.  Bishop Griswold recounted that day of mourning in an essay in which he mentions the "selfless volunteers and their eagerness to be useful."  Not only was that true on 9/11, but we are seeing more evidence of that in so many who are making a difference this week in the aftermath of two horrific hurricanes.

As I said, I think Bishop Frank's words are good to see again, so here below is that essay:

On Friday, September 14, the day of national mourning, I knew my place was here in New York with those who were courageously struggling with the aftermath of the hideous events of the previous Tuesday. A police van picked me up at the Church Center and transported me through checkpoints to the Seaman's Church Institute within the restricted area where police, firefighters, National Guard, rescue workers and Con Edison technicians were being cared for with food, fresh changes of clothing, and words of thanks and encouragement from tireless volunteers.

In the midst of the chaos I was asked to celebrate the Eucharist. It was Holy Cross Day, and how appropriate and right it was that our mourning and grief be rooted and grounded in the mystery of the cross. St. Paul speaks of sharing the sufferings of Christ. I thought that every act of violence, and all that it produces, is an instance of Christ's own suffering with and on behalf of those he came to reconcile to one another through the cross.

In the Gospel reading for the day, we hear Jesus proclaim: "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself." The cross is Jesus' facing into all the subtle and obvious forces of evil the divide the human family, drawing us all to himself in order that we might be transformed and live in new patterns of relationship: patterns which are grounded in the awareness that - at the heart of all differences of language, race, culture and ways of believing and naming God - we are profoundly one in the mind and heart of our Creator. That this terrible act of terrorism has provoked blind and indiscriminate blame directed against our Moslem and Arab neighbors is to allow the evil we are suffering to catch us up in its ongoing destructive force, and make us its victim in yet another way.

After the Eucharist, Phoebe and I were taken through more checkpoints to "Ground Zero." This close to the impact, gray ash lay everywhere and coated the silent and abandoned buildings, among them St. Paul's Chapel where George Washington worshiped. Outside the church the American and Episcopal Church flags, stained and torn, fluttered at half-mast. An ancient tree had been uprooted and its branches rested on the gravestones. The building was intact, but the churchyard was thick with ash and debris and thousands of bits of paper. The iron gate was ajar. I pushed it open and climbed the littered and ash covered steps to the open door of the church. In an eerie way, everything seemed to be in order, except for the covering of dust. I found myself in tears. Here, at the heart of all the chaos and destruction was a place of solace and prayer.

The sacristy door stood open. I went in and found a piece of paper and a pen and wrote "I have been here and you have my prayers and my love. Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop." I turned to leave and just then the priest arrived. "I'm here and the church is open," he said. What more could one ask for at a time like this than the ministry of presence.

As we left, I looked up at the crucifix above the altar and had the sense that the extended arms could receive and embrace all the madness and hatred and destruction and suffering that lay close by and in all the places in our fragile world where violence and death and innocent suffering are a daily reality. Somehow this terrible event has joined us in solidarity with the suffering of the world.

That evening I took part in a service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. At the end of the service, the congregation with lighted candles in hand followed us out onto the cathedral steps where people, instead of dispersing into the evening, drew close to one another, still holding on to their candles. Passersby joined them, some stopping to buy candles in nearby shops.

Spontaneous singing began…"We shall overcome…." I thought of the overwhelming generosity of spirit that had flowed through the day. I thought of the selfless volunteers and their eagerness to be useful; the many workers and their gratitude; the congregation bound together in mutual support. I was seeing evil overcome by good which is the only way in which our world can be healed. I was also seeing our church in action and prayer and hospitality mediate the real presence of Christ.

How grateful I am for our Episcopal household and for its clear witness at this time. The days ahead will be difficult and demanding for us all, and I pray that we will be able to live them with the courage and strength that are ours in the risen Christ.

 +Frank T. Griswold
 XXV Presiding Bishop and Primate
 The Episcopal Church, USA

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

More on Ellen

Ellen DeGeneres has been mentioned here in this space more often than any other person.  This blog is about making a difference in this world - about giving back, and there is no better example than Ellen.  I first applauded her courage in coming out, and I continue to be grateful for trailblazing efforts that have helped the lgbtq community.  At the same time I am grateful for her generosity and her great love and kindness.

Those of you who watch Ellen's television program, now in it's 15th season, know that she closes each program by saying  "Be kind to one another."  That was the inspiration for a second blog I write seven days a week, (HERE) all about kindness.

Yesterday, Ellen had me in tears once again as she introduced us to TunDe and Chris and shared their story of how they had changed each other's lives not once, but twice.  A huge gift was waiting for them both, and you could just see the joy!

"I have to say, It's a little strange to actually get an award for being nice and generous and kind which is what we're all supposed to do with one another," said Ellen in January of last year when she received the People's Choice Award for favorite humanitarian.  "That's the point of being a human." You can say that again!  Of course Ellen is actually superhuman!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hand In Hand

The fury of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma has devastated much of our country, and watching the images on television and on social media is heartbreaking.  People have lost their lives, and so many who survived have lost loved ones and have lost their homes and their possessions.  The good news is that so many are willing to help.  Neighbor helping neighbor is such a wonderful image to see, especially when each is without property.  Seeing other join together is pretty wonderful too.  I'm seeing folks all over the country get involved.  How wonderful!

As I wrote here after Harvey, there are numerous organizations where you can donate money.  Some of my favorites are The Humane Society of the United States, American Red Cross, Episcopal Relief & Development, Lutheran Disaster Response, and AmeriCares.  Of course giving directly to local organizations in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and other effected areas works too.  Be sure you are giving to legitimate agencies though - ones that are actually getting the funds to where they are needed.

Tonight there will be a huge fundraising effort on television.  Remember those tv telethons from years back?  Well this is going to be a good old fashioned telethon with celebrities and folks taking your contributions via telephone.  It begins at 8pm EDT and will be seen on numerous networks and on the internet.  With live performances from New York, Nashville, and Los Angeles, this is going to be a powerful program.  Called Hand in Hand, the telethon will be broadcast and then played again at 8pm for the west coast.  Telephone lines will be open all night.  I urge you to tune in and if able, to donate.

Hand in hand we can get through this.  Hand in hand we can make a difference and bring a brighter day for those who have lost so much.

Monday, September 11, 2017

More 9/11 Heroes

While it is important to always keep in our minds the horrible events that occurred sixteen years ago on this date, and to remember the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives after terrorists flew airplanes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center and took over an additional plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, it is important that remember the others that day too. More than 6,000 people were injured.  The entire country was in a panic.  Even folks in others countries were effected by the events of that dark day and the worst terrorist attack in our country's history.

We have heard of the heroes of course, but it amazes me that I keep hearing of more and more heroes.  People pitching in and doing what they could to help - tragedy brings folks together.  Many of those who sprung into action and saved lives, did not survive themselves.  One of them was Welles Crowther, the man in the red bandana.  The passengers aboard the fourth aircraft, United Flight 93, overpowered their hijackers and brought the plane down, killing overyone onboard but saving countless lives at the intended target, believed to have been the US Capitol.  There was also Mychal Judge, a Franciscan friar who became the first certified fatality.

There are far more people who made a difference on that date than we could ever tell you about here.  If you do an internet search for "9/11 heroes" you will find numerous stories, or you can look up the people I already mentioned.   

Every year since that day, folks have gathered all across the country to remember.  It isn't the horror and the hate we want to remember, but rather all of those innocent people who were killed or injured, and all of those wonderful heroes.  Just the other day I heard from a man who was in the Pentagon at the time.  He was way over on the other side and was safe, but he recalls the many employees who kept running back inside to make sure everyone was safe.  Let us be thankful for our heroes.  Let us be thankful for those who make a difference in this world.

Friday, September 8, 2017


Women make up more than half of the world's population, yet all too often they are still treated like second class citizens.  Many amazing accomplishments over the years have been by women and TIME is recognizing that with a list.  Specifically, it's a list of women who have been first at something, and the fortysix people listed include a mixture of liberals and conservatives, young and old, as well as different races and ethnicities.

Now I don't have anything to do with TIME magazine, and I am not writing this to promote them, but I did want you to look at who they selected.  Their complete list and a bit about each is HERE.  Most of the names I immediately recognized, but I must admit to not knowing a lot about some of them. The list includes Katharine Jefferts Schori, Nikki Haley, Barbara Walters, Madeleine Albright, Ellen DeGeneres, and Janet Yellen.  Also Rita Moreno, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Phan, Kellyanne Conway, and Rachel Maddow.  I like the diversity of jobs too - everything from a bishop to a comedian to a governor and some news reporters.

I have had the great honor of meeting some of these women and I'd sure love to meet more of them.  In case you haven't figured this out yet, I am quite a fan of people who make a positive difference in our world.  This isn't a perfect list by my standards - I might not have included a few who are there, and I can think of other great women who were the first to do various things.  What about you?  Can you think of some living women who were first at something that should be remembered in a list like this? 

Please hold off on any criticism about not mentioning men.  It seems to me that men are always getting recognized.  It's about time we did the same for women!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Introducing Keith Nguyen

Like many folks, I probably spend way too much time on facebook, but sometimes it pays off.  I just read a post from a guy in Texas named Keith Nguyen who is another Hurricane Harvey hero, and I'd like you to know all about him. 

With all the folks in need in the Houston area due to wind damage and flooding, there have been a lot of folks springing into action, and as I mentioned the other day, there are a LOT of heroes.  Keith is a unique hero though in that he doesn't seem to want any credit.  He has posted on his facebook page about donations and where they might be made and he told the story of his father Phe Nguyen and uncle Binh Nguyen, who own a restaurant, Sake Sushi Bar and Lounge in Port Arthur, TX that prepared a remarkable amount of food and served the first responders who have been out in the elements.

The picture here is part of the assembly-line process of preparing just some of the food that went out to those in need.  Keith posted on his facebook page that the restaurant staff and volunteers helped create over 1000 meals for victims, first responders, and other volunteers.  Wow!  That's not all though.  They did more.  I don't have all the details (my primary source of information has been Keith's facebook page, but I made a few phone calls to get verification).  I'd like to shake this guys hand though, because he writes that he'd love for his dad and uncle to be recognized and the staff and volunteers, but seems to shrug off any praise of his actions.

Reading posts on Keith Nguyen's facebook page, I see him offering kind words about a number of other individuals and organizations who have been making a difference.  He's correct.  Many have been helping, but when things return to normal, as they eventually will, I know a lot of people will be glad that Keith Nguyen came their way!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

We called her Mother

The subject of films, books, and numerous articles, the woman born as AnjezĂ« Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, certainly made a difference in this world.  We called her Mother and in the Roman Catholic Church, she is now called a saint, but what Teresa of Calcutta did during her lifetime, is nothing short of amazing.

At the young age of 18 she went off to join a religious community.  Mother Teresa would spend the rest of her life teaching, ministering, and doing works of charity.  Interestingly, she was a citizen of several different countries during her lifetime, and was fluent in at least five languages: Bengali, Albanian, Serbian, English and Hindi.  She once said, "By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus."
Her deeds over the years were so many, that it would be impossible to list them all.  Mother Teresa was the most admired woman in the entire world according to poll after poll.  She was respected even by those who profess no faith at all.  There was sometimes controversy, especially for her anti-abortion position, but she encouraged people to think.
Following her death on this date in 1997, Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan called her "a rare and unique individual who lived long for higher purposes. Her life-long devotion to the care of the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged was one of the highest examples of service to our humanity."  Mother Teresa was indeed someone who made a difference.

Monday, September 4, 2017

This Labor Day

Many folks these days don't get the significance of today's holiday. It isn't about that last summer picnic or the day before school begins (where I live school actually started way back in July anyway) and it isn't about sales at the mall and your favorite department stores. Today is about the worker and about the unions that have made our laborers strong. .

In past years I would go on this day to support my sister and brother workers on an informational picket line or at a business where workers were on strike.  I've also been part of special Labor Day marches and spent time with those who are out of work or underemployed.

It is because of organized labor unions that we generally have reasonable working hours, better wages, and safer working conditions. We can also be thankful for the health benefits most of us enjoy because of our labor unions.  Think of that today as you go about your activities.  

Labor Day is often called the unofficial end of summer, but instead of an end, let's think of it as a beginning - a start of better working conditions for us all. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Blood cancer awareness

Have you heard of lymphoma (both Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s), myeloma, leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative neoplasms?  My mom had leukemia.  That's probably the one with which you are most familiar.  These are all blood cancers, and this month is dedicated to spreading information about them.

Blood Cancer Awareness Month is also a good time for me to remind you that this is personal for me.  I walk each year in the San Francisco Light the Night Walk, which benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  There are walks in many other cities, and one way you can make a difference is to signup and walk, sponsor a walker, or both.  (If you would like to sponsor me, just click HERE).

The general public doesn't know nearly enough.  For example, are you aware that blood cancers affect people of all ages?  It's true.  Recently the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society commissioned a survey and they found that nearly nine out of ten adults (86%) are surprised that there are no means for preventing or screening for most blood cancers.  Also, more than four in five adults (82%) are surprised that more than a third of blood cancer patients still do not survive five years after their diagnosis.  This is the kind of information that needs to be shared more freely.

The Light the Night Walk raises funds and also shares information.  Someday there will be no such thing as cancer.  Someday.  Wouldn't it be great if someday was today?  Get involved.  Together we can make it happen.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Harvey's Heroes

Amidst all the sad and horrible scenes of destruction we are seeing in Texas and Louisiana, left by Hurricane Harvey, we are also seeing so many heartwarming pictures as well, with countless heroes springing into action.  It always amazes me how tragedy can bind people together working for a common good.

Harvey is being called the worst disaster in Texas history, and full recovery is expected to take many years.  So far there are 50 confirmed deaths, numerous injuries, and property damage around $190 billion.  Many of the homeowners were not insured.  But as gloomy as the picture is, so many people are digging into their pockets and donating money to help folks they have never met.  I'm hearing stories of neighbor helping neighbor clean out their water-damaged properties.

The Humane Society of the United States, Catholic Charities USA, American Red Cross, Lutheran Disaster Response, United States Equestrian Federation, Episcopal Relief & Development, and AmeriCares, are just some of the organizations providing help to the victims of the storm.  Any one of these is a good place to donate if you want to help.  Some of these organizations also coordinate volunteers who want to go there (and other disaster sites) to help in the various ways needed such as public health, cleanup, and construction.

As time goes by, we are seeing more and more heroes.  I urge you to join them in whatever way you can.  Our country is strong and these people will rebuild, especially when we all pull together!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stand with Texas

Now is not the time to argue about what Texas has done politically or they lifestyles of certain cities or what is liked or not liked about the Lone Star State.  When people are in trouble, the thing to do is to come to their aid.  Texas, and the Houston are in particular, is most certainly in trouble and they can use our help!

Right now they are still in the rescue phase.  Thousands have been trapped by the rising waters.  Relief is also important.  Shelters are in place and more may be needed.  Once everyone is safe and accounted for it will be easier to determine what additional assistance is going to be needed.  Then comes recovery and rebuilding.  Because of the severity of the damage, this could take a long time.  One thing that will determine how fast Houston comes back, is how many stand with her.  The more hands and the more money, the easier and faster the recovery.

The news keeps changing, so it is difficult for me to say with accuracy just how things are right now, but one thing is certain.  Texas can use our help.  Pray for them.  Donate for them.  Volunteer for them.  In other words, do something, if you are able.

Many organizations are working to help victims of Hurricane Harvey and I would suggest that you use a reputable group such as the American Red Cross, Team Rubicon, Catholic Charities USA, and Trusted World to make a donation. The Greater Houston Community Foundation is also taking donations.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The wrath of Harvey

Over the weekend the Gulf Coast felt the wrath of Hurricane Harvey, the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005 (which ended a record 12-year period with no hurricanes of Category 3 intensity).  Fortunately the winds did not cause the extreme damage that they might have, but the rain has been another matter.

There is intense flooding in Texas, especially in the Houston area.  I'm sure many of you have been watching on television and via social media.  The conditions have been heartbreaking.  While it is good to see how folks come together there with neighbor helping neighbor, Texas is going to need a lot more help.

What we are hearing right now is that money is of the most use.  Various organizations are setup to receive donations, and if you are able, I urge you to give.  I've seen a lot of negative comments on the internet about people thinking about the situation in Texas and offering prayers.  Some have said that "thoughts and prayers are useless."  I disagree.  There is never a bad time to think good thoughts about those in need and there is certainly never a bad time to pray.

Harvey made landfall with wind gusts up to 132 mph, causing property damage and knocking out power, but then came the rain.  Texas got the worst of it, but the storm still poses a threat to Louisiana.  As horrible as it has all been, the stories of heroes have certainly been beacons of hope!